Consultants help clients color their worlds

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, 8:52 p.m.

As an expert on colors, Julie Peterson knows what looks best.

Since August, the Scotland native has been working with women and men as a consultant for United Kingdom-based House of Colour Pittsburgh. She uses a color wheel with 144 hues and the four seasons to help pinpoint what — and what not — to wear.

“The correct color choices will enhance your whole look, making you look healthier, younger and increasing your self confidence,” says Peterson, of the Mexican War Streets on the North Side.

Summer individuals can mix four or more colors. Summers are blue, soft, smokey and rose. Autumns are rich, warm, earthy and vibrant. Springs are clear, bright, warm and light. Winters can do amazing blocks of vibrant color. Winters are also the season that owns black.

Gold is the metal of Autumns and Springs, whereas Summers and Winters look amazing in the cool tones of silver and winter metals.

Red is the only true color, with an equal amount of blue and yellow tones within it. Everyone has a red in his or her palette that makes her or she look fabulous.

“No more hours in front of the mirror with a bloated wardrobe, 85 percent of which you most likely never wear, because the items just didn't look right on you,” says Peterson.

Peterson often quotes Coco Chanel: “The best color in the whole world is the one that looks good on you.”

Finding the proper colors begins with looking at skin cells, hair and eye color.

“If you look good, you feel good,” Peterson says. “It is about understanding the color palette. It is also important to look at a client's lifestyle such as work, social, family and workout routine. You need a wardrobe that reflects your life.”

Lisa Corna of O'Hara is sold on the concept.

“A friend and I went to see Julie, and we had the best time,” says Corna, who is a winter. “It was amazing. I now have a bed covered in clothes I should not wear. And I am OK with that.”

It takes a commitment to stay true to your colors, Peterson says.

“It is absolutely worth every penny,” says Corna.

Client Kelly Eckert, a professional performance mindset coach from Mexican War Streets, agrees.

“I need colors to look good on me,” says Eckert, a winter. “I am a believer. As soon as I found out Julie was doing this I signed up. ... It's not about vanity. It's about reflecting more of you and who you really are.”

Not all color specialists use the color-wheel process to pinpoint specific colors.

“I feel like a woman can wear any color,” says Bear Brandegee, a personal stylist with Doncaster, a women's clothing company with studios Downtown and in Canonsburg, She has been a stylist for 10 years and attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise Los Angeles. “But it is about finding the right hue for her,” she says. “I believe every woman can wear red lipstick. The challenge is to find the proper shade.”

Because women change their hair color, skin tone and makeup at certain times of the year, their colors may also change, she says.

“What you wear will have an impact on your mood,” Brandegee says. “Color, along with fit and proportion is so important. Style is dictated by a woman's personality and what she is dressed for, and she needs to feel comfortable in her clothing.”

Candice Komar, a partner in the family law firm of Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz, Downtown, says she completely trusts Brandegee.

“I love color and believe wearing color is more powerful in court,” Komar says. “Everyone wears black. You have to distinguish yourself. I think people are drawn to people who wear bright colors. There are colors I would never choose for myself ... but when Bear chooses colors I might not choose, I end up loving those colors.”

Emmy-award winning stylist David Zyla from New York City, who often visits Pittsburgh for costume design work and style events, says color is so important he wrote a book, “Color Your Style” (Penguin, $15). about it.

“Think of when someone says ‘you look really good,' instead of ‘that's a great dress,' how good that makes you feel,” he says. “Clothing and color should be used as raw materials to showcase you. Finding the right colors helps pull out what is already there and accentuating what is there versus putting on something that isn't as harmonious.”

Color experts know there can be a fear factor, especially when it comes to women, because change can be hard. So they start with getting a client out of his or her comfort zone, making sure to not push them over the edge to start, says Peterson.

After they make the leap, they will get noticed for it.

“Women need that affirmation that they look good,” says Peterson, one of six consultants for House of Colour in the United States. There are hundreds overseas.

When clients see the difference color makes in the way they look, it's an amazing revelation, experts say.

“If you look fantastic, you won't be shy about asking for that raise,” Zyla says. “Wearing the right color makes us glow and makes us happy.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop , a staff writer for Trib Total Media, can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

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